In 1967 Art Lopez, of Long Beach, California, purchased this Chevy pickup. When purchased, Art figured the truck would stick around a few years as a camping/work truck for the family. He never dreamed his son, Art Lopez Jr., would fall in love with the truck and it would still be around in 2008. But it's because of juniors liking that this truck, which was once considered dispensable, is now entrenched in the Lopez's blood.
When junior became old enough to begin thinking about driving he asked his dad if he could have the '66. Senior agreed, on one condition though, that junior save enough money to buy a new engine for the truck. The day that first motor found its way into the truck is the day the Lopez's opened Pandora's Box. They haven't stopped toying with the Chevy ever since. The latest incarnation is the dream of two avid drag racers that were looking to add some flare of their own.
When the Arts decided to go all out, they really went all out. They kick started the build with a bang by ordering up a new GM Performance Parts 540 horsepower ZZ502. Originally they thought they would be able to incorporate the oversized Rat into the '66, but it was soon apparent that some reconstruction was necessary to deliver all that the 502 had to offer. They enlisted longtime fabricator and friend Larry Pettit (who unfortunately passed away at the time of writing this) to rework the chassis to accommodate the 502. Larry began by eliminating the stock frontend, and dropping in a Fatman Fabrications Mustang II frontend. Included in the new setup were coilover shocks, drop spindles, and a Mustang rack-and-pinion. Next, the factory trailing arm setup was thrown out and a coilover suspended Total Cost Involved four-link was installed. Because both junior and senior wanted some serious meat out back, American Racing 15x14s with Mickey Thompson 29x18.50 rubber was used. They also dropped in a narrowed Ford 9-inch equipped with a Detroit Locker for max bite. With the chassis squared away the new 502 was dropped in but it didn't exactly fit. Therefore, Larry modified and shaved the firewall to allow the 502 ample space. He also relocated the brake booster assembly and battery under the cab. With the 502 tucked away, a Zoop's serpentine system was then ordered and installed. The engine inhales and exhales via a Holley 850-cfm carburetor, and Hooker block-hugger headers with Flowmaster exhaust and mufflers. Backing the 502 is a Torrance Transmission-built Turbo 400 with a 2,500 stall speed.
As far back as senior and junior can recall they had always pictured the '66 with a flawless coat of black paint. However, the body was in no shape for paint. A few tweaks here and there were in order. Ricardo Lopez was brought in to handle paint and body. First up he removed and shaved the parking lights. From there the gas filler neck, door handles, and tailgate were wiped clean. Not wanting to stop, and seeking an absolute streamline effect, the Lopez's then had Ricardo fill body seams. Finally, what was only seen in the Art's heads was about to become a reality when Ricardo laid down the lustrous PPG Black paintjob. The stock bumpers were then mounted back on the truck, but not before they were shaved clean, and sent off to be re-chromed. A new Mar-K oak wood bed, with boltless polished stainless steel bed strips, was also installed.
Senior and junior wanted the interior to look just as classy as the exterior. To begin that transformation they shaved bits and pieces of the dash. From there the truck was sent to Fast Eddie in Torrance, California for upholstery. Tan Ferrari leather was chosen and the custom interior, which includes a Glide Engineering seat, was stitched up. Atop the GM tilt-column is a Lecarra steering wheel. Other products that found their way inside the cab are Dakota Digital gauges and a Vintage Air A/C unit. Although the truck took years to finish and several calls to their financial advisor Nellie, mom, the Lopez's wouldn't change a thing. And for junior, the day he first jumped behind the wheel for a white-knuckle ride, and heard his dad mutter the words, "that's enough," well that, as MasterCard would say, is priceless.